create matte effect without lightroom presents

Today I’m going to teach you how to create a matte effect in Lightroom. I have Lightroom 4 and I believe this tutorial will work for anyone using Lightroom 3 or higher.

I think the matte effect looks creative when applied to certain photographs but I understand that some photographers think it ruins a perfectly good picture (I’ll let you be the judge of that). I don’t use it a lot, but my personal favorite is applying it over a black and white shot.

This tutorial only has 4 steps because the look is extremely simple to achieve:

Lightroom Tutorial - Creating a matte effect

1. After you’ve chosen a photo from your library, switch to the develop mode and find the tone curve on the right sidebar because this is the only thing you’ll need to manipulate. You won’t need to mess with any of those sliders so click on the small box in the right bottom corner.

Lightroom Tutorial - Shadow effect

1. After you’ve clicked on the small box, the sliders will disappear and the point curve should say “custom” instead of “linear”. Hover over the line with your curser and become familiar with the different parts of the tone curve. The far right should be highlights and the far left should be shadows.

Lightroom Tutorial - Create a matte effect in Lightroom

3. Now take your curser and click on the line to create a point somewhere on the left. If you make a mistake, you can always right click to delete the control point. I created my point near the “blacks” and “shadows” on the tone curve.

Lightroom photography tutorials

4. After you’ve created a point, bring your curser to the far left of the line and start pulling up that little section. This will create the matte look you want and you can adjust accordingly!

And that’s it. A matte finish in a snap.


Filed Under: Photography7 Comments
  • Amanda

    This is interesting for me to see how you do this! I use CS6 for this kind of thing, and use the exposure tool. All I do is set the offset to somewhere between 0.081-0.287!

    • Postcards from Rachel

      I think my husband can get me CS6 through his MBA program so maybe I’ll mess around with that, too. Free programs… yay!

  • Sarah Shumate

    I’m one of those that doesn’t particularly care for a matte effect in pictures – although I definitely think it has its place. But I’m super glad you’re doing these tutorials in Lightroom. I plan on purchasing it for myself at Christmas, so I’ll need all the help I can get. ;o)

    • Postcards from Rachel

      You will love Lightroom!

  • Kayli Schattner

    Oh, how I adore matte effects. I have Photoshop Elements 10 and wonder if I could pretty much follow your tutorial…because I love it.

    • Postcards from Rachel

      I like them, too! Sometimes pictures look better with that “artsy” feel. :)

  • Beka Johnson

    I think the matte finish is pretty. I’ve yet to buy an editing program because I’m trying to figure out which one to buy. I’ve heard lightroom is good for beginners?